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  • Written by Laura Resau
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Written by Laura ResauAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Laura Resau


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: November 13, 2007
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89059-8
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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On Sale: March 10, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7393-7977-6
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Tags for this book (powered by Library Thing)
mexico (33) immigration (19) guatemala (16) family (12) fiction (12)
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“A captivating read.”—School Library Journal, Starred

One night Sophie and her parents are called to a hospital where Pedro, a six-year-old Mexican boy, is recovering from dehydration. Crossing the border into Arizona with a group of Mexicans and a coyote, or guide, Pedro and his parents faced such harsh conditions that the boy is the only survivor. Pedro comes to live with Sophie, her parents, and Sophie's Aunt Dika, a refugee of the war in Bosnia. Sophie loves Pedro—her Principito, or Little Prince. But after a year, Pedro’s surviving family in Mexico makes contact, and Sophie, Dika, Dika’s new boyfriend, and his son must travel with Pedro to his hometown so that he can make a heartwrenching decision.

An IRA Award Winner
An Américas Award Honor Book
An ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults
A Colorado Book Award Winner
A Cybil Award Finalist
School Library Journal Best Book
A Richie’s Pick


One night in June, at midnight, I was in bed reading The Little Prince, a book I’d already read once and underlined for world lit class. I was lost in the story, right there with the pilot alone in the sand dunes when the little boy appears out of nowhere.

Right then, the phone rang. I walked into the kitchen in my nightgown, my bare feet slapping the clay tile, my mind still in the sand dunes of another planet.

I picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Officer Douglas here, Border Patrol. I need to speak with Juan Gutiérrez.”

My stomach tightened. I knocked on Mom and Juan’s door. “Juan. Border Patrol’s on the phone.”

During the phone call, Juan listened and nodded gravely. “Yes, yes, I see. Seven dead?” His voice cracked. “I have no idea how my business card got in this kid’s pocket.”

I sat at the kitchen table, tracing the deep, worn scratches in the wood, trying not to stare at the tears leaking out of Juan’s eyes.

Mom disappeared into the bedroom, and a few minutes later, calmly reemerged, her keys jangling. She’d already changed into a gauzy dress and turquoise necklace. She carried herself in a European-model way, her neck long, never slouching, not even in the middle of the night un- der the weight of bad news. Only two delicate furrows on her forehead betrayed her worry. That, and her British accent grew a bit more pronounced, as it did whenever she got emotional.

Just as Juan was hanging up the phone, Great-aunt Dika thudded into the kitchen, her eyes wide and alarmed. “What is it?” she cried. “What is it?” For Dika, being woken in the middle of the night meant bombings and attacks. She came from Bosnia and she’d materialized in our lives six months earlier. Dee-ka is how she said her name. Trying to understand Dika was like deciphering a code: vs were really ws, ds were ths, rolling rrrs were rs. Her words pierced the air, loud and shrill, as if she were perpetually in the middle of a big, rowdy party. Be patient with her, Sophie, Mom kept telling me, the woman barely survived a war. But I suspected she was a naturally hyper person.

Juan rubbed his face. The muscles in his arms flexed, moving the snake tattoos. “Seven Mexicans died crossing the desert.” He spoke in Spanish, as he always did when he felt deeply about something. “One boy survived. They found my business card in his pocket.”

On the way to the hospital in the puttering Volkswagen Bus, Mom clutched the wheel and came up with possible scenarios. Juan, meanwhile, sat hunched in the passenger seat, his head in his hands.

He’d come from Mexico in the eighties, illegally, across the desert. He got residency after he married my mom nine years ago. Since then, when people crossed the desert to Tucson, Juan sometimes put them up for a night. He gave them food and water and always refused payment. His motives were good, but what he did was against the law. Mom finally put her foot down about it. Only in absolute emergencies, she said, could these people stay at our place.

Mom sped down First Avenue, her eyes flicking nervously from the rearview to the side-view mirror. I knew she was wondering if we’d get in trouble, if the Border Patrol had discovered we’d been helping immigrants. “You know, Juan,” she said in Spanish, “maybe you did business with someone who knew this family. Who knows, maybe the card was passed around a lot. The boy could’ve found it on the street.”

Dika, meanwhile, muttered in the background. “This poor boy. Poor, poor boy.” She spoke her own strange version of English. Her accent moved from Slavic to Spanish to German. She was an onion, layers of language peeling off here and there, exposing bits of her sixty years of life, not much, just enough to make you wonder.

The hospital was a surreal place at one in the morning, a maze of fluorescent corridors. A man in a wrinkled orange shirt and braces met us outside the boy’s room. He shook hands with each of us, and said he was with CPS, Child Protective Services.

“The kid’s a foundling,” the man said. “That’s what the law calls them. A young child, found alone.” He mumbled, trying to hide his braces. “We’re pretty sure his parents died crossing the desert. He looks at least five years old, but he won’t talk. When the sheriff asked him about his parents, he pointed out their bodies. Problem is, we can’t ID the bodies and we don’t know the kid’s name.”

“He’s probably in shock,” Mom said. “His parents dead. Three days in a desert.”

“Three days in desert!” Dika cried. “That boy is hungry now!” She barreled down the bright hallway toward the vending machines.

The CPS man swung open the door and we entered the room. There was a tiny life on the bed, lost in a hospital gown spotted with hippos and giraffes. His eyes were open but lifeless. A tube was taped to the back of his hand.

Foundling. What a strange word. It made me think of the fairy tales that Juan used to tell me—didn’t they start with foundlings in the wilderness who turned out to be magical?

“Hola, amigo,” Juan whispered.

Mom touched the boy’s thin wrist. “¿Cómo estás, mi amor?”

No answer.

“Sure you don’t know this child?” the CPS man asked.

Juan shook his head.

The man sighed. “I was hoping you might.” He explained what would happen to the boy. If no relatives claimed him, he would become an American citizen, under the care of CPS.

I looked at the boy. A dark-skinned Little Prince, a lonely apparition from the desert. Around his neck hung a tangle of strings attached to square bits of leather imprinted with saints. On his cheek, a pinkish spot of skin, the color of a conch shell’s spiral. Maybe a wound healing, maybe a birthmark.

“Then what would happen to the little guy?” Juan asked.

“Foster care, adoption.”

Dika appeared at the doorway with a pack of Fig Newtons. “We take him!” She ripped open the plastic with her yellowed teeth, shoved a cookie in her mouth, and passed the package around the room. The man took one politely.

“We take him, Sophie. Yes?” Dika looked at me. She was always trying to make me an accomplice in her plans.

I shrugged and glanced at Mom and Juan. They were ignoring her and talking in low voices. I thought about it, the possibility of taking him. A little brother might be cute. But this boy on the hospital bed wasn’t exactly cute. To tell the truth, he scared me. He was living proof of one of my worst fears: Your parents really could die and leave you alone in the world. For the first seven years of my life, it was just Mom and me. No father, no grandparents, no aunts or uncles. Early on, I figured out that if anything happened to Mom, I would be alone on this planet. Then, when Juan came along, you’d think I’d have felt safer, but my fears of a parent dying were just multiplied by two.

Dika sat her wide hips on the bed, half-smushing the boy, and pulled out a cookie. “Aquí, for you, mi amor.” You wouldn’t expect a Bosnian refugee to speak nearly perfect Spanish, but Dika boasted that she spoke a dozen languages.

She half-reclined on the hospital bed and smiled proudly, watching him munch on the Fig Newton.

“That’s the first he’s eaten,” the CPS man said.

Dika handed the boy another Fig Newton. “Of course we take him,” she said again.

From the Hardcover edition.
Laura Resau

About Laura Resau

Laura Resau - Red Glass
Years ago, while I was teaching English in Mexico and backpacking around Latin America on vacations, I thought, 'Hey, wouldn't it be cool if I spent my whole life traveling around from one country to another?'  I loved the idea of always immersing myself in a new culture, learning a new language, having new adventures.  

Alas, I didn't end up doing it.  The homebody in me won out.  I settled down in Colorado and got married and bought a house and formed a close community of friends here.  I still travel as often as I can, but part of me dreams of a completely nomadic existence…

The beauty of writing books (and reading them for that matter)  is that you can lead lots of thrilling, adventure-packed lives instead of just this one.  I started imagining a series about a teen girl named Zeeta, who travels the world with her flighty, English-teaching mom.  Each book would be set in a different country—my way of living a whimsical travelers' life through my characters.

I chose countries that I've felt a special connection with (all places where I wouldn't mind going back to for a "research trip" or two, of course.)  The Indigo Notebook is set in Ecuador, where I'd spent time in indigenous (Indian) villages in the Andes—a region with a breath-taking landscape and fascinating culture.  As with my first two books (What the Moon Saw and Red Glass), many of the people I met and the stories they shared inspired parts of this novel. 

In Ecuador, a friend told me that one day, a teenage boy had come to his village looking for his birth family.  All the stranger knew was that he'd been adopted from this village as a baby.  It turned out that he was my friend's biological half-brother, and ended up being embraced by family.  I loved this story for many reasons.

During the year I was writing The Indigo Notebook, I was also in the process of adopting a baby from Guatemala, and imagining how he might feel about his adoption when he grew older.  (Sidenote: He's a wild-haired, adorable toddler now and I love him with every particle of my being!)  So naturally, one of the plots in The Indigo Notebook involves a boy's search for a birth family.  As Zeeta helps Wendell look for his biological parents, they grow closer, but find themselves facing obstacles and danger and mystery along the way. 

Ultimately, The Indigo Notebook is about what happens when your biggest wish is about to come true… and then you wonder if it's what you truly want after all.  There might be something better…

With a background in cultural anthropology and ESL-teaching, Laura Resau has lived and traveled extensively in Latin America - experiences which inspired her books for young people. Her latest children's novel, Star in the Forest, was praised as "a child's migration story with simple immediacy... an unforgettable narrative" (Booklist, starred.) Her previous young adult novels - The Indigo Notebook, Red Glass, and What the Moon Saw - have garnered many starred reviews and awards, including the IRA YA Fiction Award, the Americas Award, and a spot on Oprah's Kids' Book List. Acclaimed for its sensitive treatment of immigration issues, Resau's writing has been called "vibrant, large-hearted" (Publishers' Weekly, starred for Red Glass) and "powerful, magical" (Booklist, starred for What the Moon Saw). Resau lives with her husband and toddler in Colorado. She donates a portion of her royalties to indigenous rights organizations in Latin America.


Starred Review, Booklist, September 15, 2007:
"The vivid characters, the fine imagery, and the satisfying story arc make this a rewarding novel."
—Carolyn Phelan

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, October 1, 2007:
"The prose captivates from the first chapter ... a vibrant, large-hearted story."

From the Hardcover edition.

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